How To Stop Rambling In Interviews

by | Interviewing

“How do I stop rambling in interviews?”

As an interview coach, I get asked this question often, from both early-career professionals and seasoned executives.

Rambling is a common problem in job interviews, since it’s normal to speak more quickly when you’re in a high-stakes conversation.

However, you only have so much time when meeting with a recruiter or hiring manager, and you need to make the best impression possible if you want to secure a job offer.

In this article, you’ll learn why you might ramble during interviews, the consequences of doing so, and how to speak more concisely. Let’s dive in.

Why Do I Ramble During Interviews?

One of the most common reasons for rambling during interviews is nerves and anxiety, as a lot rides on making a great first impression.

Another likely reason you might ramble during an interview is that you didn’t spend enough time preparing for your big day and are attempting to think of the fly.

Alternatively, some people overshare when speaking with recruiters and hiring managers because they are overprepared and want to fit in every detail possible.

Is It Bad To Overshare In An Interview?

Speaking of which, a common mistake among job seekers is oversharing during interviews.

For starters, you don’t want to divulge confidential or proprietary information when speaking with prospective employers, as this can make it seem as if you don’t understand privacy.

You also have limited time in an interview, and oversharing can waste valuable time.

It can be challenging for a recruiter or hiring manager to assess your candidacy and move you to the next stage in the hiring process if they run out of time to ask you all their interview questions.

Keeping your responses to 90 seconds to 2 minutes in length on average will minimize the likelihood that your interviewer runs out of time.

Note: An interviewer can always ask follow-up questions if they want to learn more about a specific point you shared.

[Read: 4 Signs You Had A Bad Interview (And How To Recover)]

How To Stop Rambling In Interviews

So, how do you stop oversharing in interviews? Here are six steps you can take to speak more succinctly:

1. Develop your key interview talking points.

Before your big day, spend time getting clear on the main talking points you want to share during your interview.

Consider developing a one-page document that outlines your elevator pitch, strengths, weaknesses, and STAR(T) stories to keep you focused and on track.

You can also outline your questions for the interviewer to assess the culture and learn more about the role.

A benefit of virtual interviews is that you can have your “cheat sheet” on your screen to serve as a guide. Just make sure you don’t read from the document like a script, as you want to come off as natural and confident, not overly rehearsed.

2. Add structure to your answers.

Next, consider using a consistent formula, such as the STAR(T) method, to keep your responses organized:

  • Situation: What was the situation? Keep this part brief!
  • Task: What was your task? Again, be brief here!
  • Action: What specific actions did you take?
  • Result: What were the results you delivered to the company?
  • Tie it back to the company and position: How does your answer relate to the company and position you’re interviewing for?

As you share your responses, you want to quickly get to the point and answer the interviewer’s question, preferably in the very first sentence. In other words, you don’t want to bury the lede.

Aim to begin each answer with a one-sentence hook that quickly summarizes your response.

This is particularly important when interviewing with executives, as you want to demonstrate your ability to synthesize complex topics for diverse stakeholders.

3. Practice responding to common and curveball interview questions.

Once you’ve developed your talking points, you want to practice using them to respond to both common and curveball interview questions.

As you respond, take note of the length of your answer, and see where you might shorten your responses to be more concise.

While it can be painful to watch, one of the most powerful tools is to record yourself speaking and then watch back to see where you deliver value and where there’s fluff that can be cut.

4. Pause before responding to the interviewer’s questions.

When your big day comes, you want to remain calm and collected, as it’s common to ramble when you get nervous.

You also want to ensure you have really understood and processed the interviewer’s question before responding. And if you didn’t understand it, you want to ask clarifying questions before sharing your response.

5. Breathe between sentences

Additionally, you want to remember to breathe throughout your interview.

Try to take a deep breath between each of your sentences. This allows you to not only gather your thoughts but also provides the interviewer time to process your answer.

Plus, if you find yourself rambling, you can use an intentional deep breath to center yourself and get back on track with your response.

6. Use a timer to reel yourself back in.

Finally, if you’re still finding it difficult to keep your responses succinct, you can use a timer to alert you that you’ve gone over your allotted time.

Interview Timer

A timer such as this one will blink when you hit the 2-minute mark and cue you that it’s time to wrap up your response.

How To Stop Rambling In Interviews

Final Thoughts On Speaking More Concisely In Interviews

Interviews can be exceptionally nerve-wracking, as it can feel like a lot is riding on a single conversation. Please don’t expect perfection when talking about yourself and your accomplishments. Instead, do your best and then trust the process.

On a final note, if you’re still struggling to keep yourself from rambling, or simply want to improve your interview skills with an expert by your side, please feel free to contact me or schedule a consultation. I’m here for you! You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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